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Highlights

During a May 2003 congressional hearing, questions were raised about the accuracy of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) reported costs for collecting payments from veterans and private health insurers for its Medical Care Collections Fund (MCCF). Congress also had questions about VA's practice of using third-party collections to satisfy veterans' first-party debt. GAO's objectives were to determine: (1) the accuracy of VA's reported cost for collecting first- and third-party payments from veterans and private health insurers, and (2) how VA's practice of satisfying first-party debt with third-party payments affects the collections process.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Veterans Affairs To accurately determine and report the cost to collect first- and third-party payments, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs should direct the Under Secretary for Health to provide guidance for standardizing and consistently applying across VA the accounting of costs associated with collecting payments from veterans and private health insurers.
Closed - Implemented
On December 15, 2004, the Veterans Health Administration issued a directive (2004-068), which provides operational policy for the accounting of costs associated with the billing and collecting of payments for health care services from certain veterans and private health insurers.

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